Nelson Polsby

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Constitutional Mischief: What's Wrong with Term Limitations

How to fill legislatures with the old, the rich, and the bought.

Constitutional Mischief: What's Wrong With Term Limitations by Nelson W. Polsby On November 6, 1990, California voters by a modest margin amended their state constitution with an initiative that promises to produce far-reaching consequences. This initiative, numbered 140, one of 26 statewide measures offered on the ballot, contained four main provisions: (2) A lifetime ban on service in the state Senate after two terms, or eight years, and the state Assembly after three terms, or six years. (3) A ban on the provision of a pension or retirement benefit for service in the legislature, other than federal Social Security. (4) A sharp permanent reduction in the expenditures allowed for legislative salaries and staff, amounting roughly to an immediate 40 percent reduction in legislative staff. (1) A lifetime ban on the holding of each major state constitutional office applied to persons who have served two terms, covering the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general,...